Through Amazon.com, I can shop online and check out their lightning deals while simultaneously writing this blog post! If I can manage to hold off until 9:50 pm, these animal fur lobers will be available for 35 dollars. Later today, I can battle holiday traffic and hit Aeropostale and–get this–60% off everything in the store. I can also spend 65 dollars at Victoria’s Secret today to get a limited edition tote bag. I could have spent time at Target on Thanksgiving Day, starting at 9 am, browsing the aisles pre-meal preparation or staggering around in a food coma later at night.
Like many of our big holidays, it’s a shame how much our consumer culture has come to inundate Thanksgiving. I dislike shopping to begin with, and I dislike excessive consumerism, so for me, Black Friday is the worst. THE WORST. I have no problem with exchanging gifts, but at some point the sheer unsustainability and madness surrounding this materialistic frenzy must make us pause.
Let’s stop and think about why we have Thanksgiving. For most people, it’s traditionally about family coming together, abundance, and giving thanks. We’ve got the first celebration in 1621 in Massachusetts Bay Colony as a heartwarming reminder of the potential of the human spirit, unity, and survival of our early colonists. However, did you know that Thanksgiving became “more official” after the Pequot Indian massacre of 1637? The Governor of Massachusetts Bay Colony declared A day of Thanksgiving, thanking God that they had eliminated over 700 men, women and children. They don’t teach us this in elementary school; it muddles a more tidy version of American History. This was 16 years after the first feast in 1621.
Since then, we’ve seen parades, football, the start of the Christmas season, and hoards of shoppers become a part of our national tradition.
Let’s think about why Thanksgiving is one of the few times of the year families make an effort get together for a big meal. Let’s think about who isn’t able to enjoy massive portions of Thanksgiving staples and post-meal naps. Let’s think about where our food comes for such a feast. Lastly, let’s challenge our collection obsession with stuff.
For some people, giving and receiving gifts is a manifestation of love, so if you know somebody would truly appreciate the Victoria’s Secret limited edition tote bag, more power to you–go spend the 65 dollars at the mall today. I suspect that for many people, however, Black Friday is seen as a challenge and a thrill, an opportunity to accumulate as many great deals as possible, regardless of whether or not the products will be needed or appreciated.
Does the consumer frenzy surrounding holidays bother you? Do you or your family have any unique Thanksgiving traditions? Do you partake in Black Friday shopping, in person or online?